Kutch district (also spelled as Kachchh) is a district of Gujarat state in western India. Covering an area of 45,652 km², it is the largest district of India. The population of Kutch is 21 Lacs, literacy rate is 59.79% and the sex ratio is 908. It has 10 Talukas, 939 villages and 6 Municipalities
Kutch literally means something which intermittently becomes wet and dry; a large part of this district is known as Rann of Kutch which is shallow wetland which submerges in water during the rainy season and becomes dry during other seasons. The same word is also used in the languages of Sanskrit origin for a tortoise. The Rann is famous for its marshy salt flats which become snow white after the shallow water dries up each season before the monsoon rains.
The district is also famous for ecologically important Banni grasslands with their seasonal marshy wetlands which form the outer belt of the Rann of Kutch.
Kutch District is surrounded by the Gulf of Kutch and the Arabian Sea in south and west, while northern and eastern parts are surrounded by the Great and Little Rann (seasonal wetlands) of Kutch. When there were not many dams built on its rivers, the Rann of Kutch remained wetlands for a large part of the year. Even today, the region remains wet for a significant part of year. The district had a population of 1,583,500 of which 30% were urban as of 2001.Motor vehicles registered in Kutch district have their registration Number starting with GJ-12. The district is well connected by road, rail and air. There are four airports in the district, Naliya,Kandla, Mundra, and Bhuj, which is well connected with Mumbai. Being a border district, Kutch has both and an army and an airforce base.
The history of Kutch can be traced back to prehistorical times. There are several sites related to Indus valley civilization in region and is mentioned in Hindu mythology. In historical times, Kutch is mentioned in Greek writings during Alexander. It was ruled by Menander I of Greco-Bactrian Kingdom which was overthrown by Indo-Scythians followed by Maurya Empire and Sakas. in the first century, it was under Western Satraps followed by Gupta Empire. By fifth century, Maitraka of Valabhi took over from which its close association with ruling clans of Gujarat started. Chavdas ruled the eastern and central parts by sevnth century but were came under Solankis by tenth century. After fall of Solanki, Vaghelas ruled the state. Following conquest of Sindh by Muslim rulers, Rajput Samma started moving southwards to Kutch and ruled western regions initially. By tenth century, they controlled significant area of Kutch and by thirteenth century they controlled whole of Kutch and adopted a new dynastic identity, Jadeja.
For three centuries, Kutch was divided and ruled by three different branches of Jadeja brothers. In sixteenth century, Kutch was unified under one rule by Rao Khengarji I of these branches and his direct decedents ruled for two centuries and had good relationship with Gujarat Sultanate and Mughals. One of his descendants, Rayadhan II left three sons of whom two died and third son, Pragmalji I took over the state and founded the current linage of rulers at the start of the seventeenth century. The decedents of other brothers founded states in Kathiawar. After turbulent periods and battles with armies of Sindh, the state was stabilized in the middle of eighteenth century by council known as Bar Bhayat ni Jamat who placed Rao as a titular head and ruled independently. The state accepted suzerainty of British East India Company in 1819 when Kutch was defeated in battle. The state was devastated by an earthquake in 1819. The state stabilized and flourished in business under subsequent rulers.
Upon the independence of India in 1947, Kutch acceded unto the dominion of India and was constituted an independent commissionaire. It was created a state within the union of India in 1950. The state witnessed an earthquake in 1956. On 1 November 1956, Kutch State was merged with Bombay state, which in 1960 was divided into the new linguistic states of Gujarat and Maharashtra, with Kutch becoming part of Gujarat state as Kutch district. The district was affected by tropical cyclone in 1998 and the earthquake in 2001. The state saw rapid industrialization and growth in tourism in subsequent years.
The language spoken predominantly in the Kutch district is Kutchi language and Gujarati. The script of the Kutchi language has become extinct. It is now mainly written in the Gujarati script. Samples of Kutch script are available in the Kutch Museum. The increased use of Gujarati language is mainly because of its being a medium of instruction in schools.
Historically Kutch was always considered a backward region due to its location and submerged geography. The situation seemed to have worsened after the disastrous Kutch earthquake. But in the next decade, the economy took an almost miraclous jumpstart due to the intense efforts of the Gujarat government. Kutch today is a growing economic and industrial hub in one of India’s fastest growing states – Gujarat. Its location on the far western edge of India has resulted in the commissioning of two major ports Kandla and Mundra. These ports are near most to the Gulf and Europe by the sea route. The hinterland of north-western India hosts more than 50% of India’s population.
Quality of roads is good in Kutch. The large part of the growth of Kutch came after intense development by the state government as part of 2001 earthquake relief.
Due to the existence of two major ports i.e Kandla and Mundra transportation as a business has thrived. Since historical times the people of Kutch have formed the backbone of trade between Gujarat mainland and Sindh. After the formation of Pakistan this trade stopped for good, but due to the inception of the Kandla port, trade boomed again. Kandla port is also in Kutch. It is considered Gateway to India’s North. It is managed by the Kandla Port trust.